Monday, January 12, 2009

Amazon 2009: Day Eight (Monday, January 12)

Today’s video was produced by the team Bota Fogo.

Again, we are catching up on blogposts, so please look back at the last couple of days to see newly-posted videos. Today we had a surprise day off, so we slept in a bit. Still, we are used to being productive, so we took the time to clean our camp. The staff gave us all of their cleaning supplies and taught us their methods; we went to town on the floors, walls, our own stuff, everything. It really felt much better to see the place straightened up.

One group of four opted to go to work with Georgete this morning to help her package some goods that she had made. We are very impressed with her resourcefulness in everything that she does. She is constantly producing art and other goods from recycled materials and she apparently sells enough of her work to help support her family and the program in which we are participating. Our group had a great time working with her until we realized that one of the bikes that we had used to get to her house was no longer outside. That is, we had parked our bikes inside a wall around her house, but someone ventured in and stole one.

We were bummed to lose a bike, but Georgete was downright horrified that this unfortunate event had happened. She launched a full investigation among her neighborhood group, which might well lead to the return of the bike. We’ll see.

Even without all of our bikes, we decided to use this afternoon to learn a bit more about Santarém. We chose the João Fona Cultural Center as a starting point. It is a museum of natural and cultural history that focuses on Santarém and the surrounding Amazon region. We learned a range of different things there, but most of us were probably most fascinated by Lourimar Leal, the director of the museum, who was just inside the front door. The last SMC group had met him four years ago, so our leaders were able to catch up and see what has transpired in Santarém since then.

Lourimar is a descendant of Brazilian slaves, so he has spent part of his life trying to understand the practices of slavery and the premises under which the system persisted. Among other things, he has collected some items that were used to punish slaves, including a huge iron shoe and an actual stockade that were used to keep slaves in line. These items are on display in one room of the museum and -- unlike U.S. museums – the items are not covered by plexiglass or protective coverings so we could actually touch some of them.

Lourimar’s perspective on the entire subject of the Brazilian slave trade is unique, especially because he is one of few living Brazilians who learned the songs that were passed around in slave communities. He sang a couple of them for us and we were surprised to learn that they are not recorded anywhere, whether sung by him or someone else. We, then, are going back to see him soon and we will be the crew that documents this important piece of Brazilian history for the first time (as far as we know). Both Lourimar and we are thrilled.

The sad news from Lourimar is that since the last SMC visit (in 2005), he has lost his sight due to glaucoma. This news is particularly sad because Lourimar is also a respected painter in the region, who has served as Secretary of Culture under several different administrations. Lourimar, however, seems to take his relatively new blindness in stride and now hopes to do more singing (perhaps starting to sing about what he might have painted). We look forward to our next visit with him, which might actually be at his artifact-filled home.

Our Rider of the Purple Bike today was Tara Larson. Yesterday, she got herself up for church and sat out on the porch waiting for almost an hour. When Shawny finally got up, it was too late to make it to mass, but she stayed up anyway. Tara is a fabulous group member no matter what is happening, but she proved herself to be extra special on Sunday and therefore wins a seat on the Purple Bike.

The view out into the courtyard of the museum.

Felicia, Rob, Erik, and Katie sitting on the steps of the Santarem Museum.

Georgete in the process of packaging the products she makes before sending them out to the stores.

A doorway out into the courtyard of the Santarem Museum.

Ana talking to Lourimar Leal, a historian at the Santarem Museum.

As we stare outside the window, you are able to see the meeting of the Tapajos river and the Amazon.

Lourimar Leal is not only the director of the Cultural Center of Santarem, he is also a well renowned artist.

This is Joe and Joey enjoying each other's company in Brazil.

This is Georgete using her day off from working with the kids to make fruit flavored liqueur and jelly. This is how she makes her livelihood in Brazil.

Erik contemplated about life looking at the pure beauty of Brazil.

A whale skeleton of the animal that mysteriously floated throughout the Tapajos River, only unfortunately die in a boat accident.

Artifacts in the museum. Some of the earliest ceramic art was found in Santarem.

The beautiful Mercedes is documenting the beginning of our tour of the Santarem Museum.

Who needs a car when you can carry your family on your bike?

Katie enjoying the scenery and relaxing in the hammock, while diligently writing in her daily journal.


Anonymous said...

It sure looks less humid, or else you're all getting used to the weather. By the way, it was 84 in Santa Rosa today (1/12/09)! Keep up the good work and journal writing (Katie).
Dean Leonard

Anonymous said...

Wow! Both Georgete and Lourimar sound like fascinating people to get to know. The blog is great, the videos are great, the photos are great, and what you all are doing with the kids is great! BTW, excellent rendition of Jingle Bells!
Kim, Katie's Mom

jillagunter said...

Hey bravehearts! Hi to joey and marie, you look like brazil suits you.Liked hearing lourimar sing. record setting temp. here today in capitola! Beautiful... Love you cassie!!!! mom